Thursday, October 10, 2013

No Fear Pitching

The young lady in the above photo is barely 6 years old!  She KNOWS no fear of playing the game of golf, because its exactly that to her, a GAME!

What happens to the rest of us!  The above shot puts extreme fear into our hearts. We see the wide bunker and a narrow green.  This little girl sees her pink ball (look closely in the photo) and knows it simply flies over the bunk to get to the green.

Focus on the reward, not the punishment. Put away your scuffed balls when navigating a pitch shot over the pond.  Focus on what you want and NOT what you are trying avoid.

Lets begin the with fundamentals.  Below is your blueprint for success:


• Grip down on the handle for better feel and control (and vary distance control).
• Ball position centered
• Shoulders parallel to target line
• Stance may be open

The Pitching Motion
  • Imagine an inverted triangle formed by your shoulders, arms and hands
  • The “triangle” swings away in one piece at start of the backswing
  • As the hands swing back and reach waist-high, they should begin to hinge
  • The downswing consists of swinging the arms and the club swing out toward the target.
  • Swing ends with weight on target-side foot & shaft vertical, pointing clubhead to the sky.

Two important ingredients to successful and consistent pitch shots:
1. Maintain width of swing (maintain radius of swing)
2. Keep arms, hands, and club in front of torso (as it turns) throughout the swing

Distance control optionsGrip down on handle
  • Narrow stance
  • Shorten length of swing
  • Slow the speed of swing, but maintain consistent rhythm and timing

On shortening the length of swing . . .
Imagine if you were standing in front of a large clock where 12 o’clock is at your head and 6
o’clock at your feet, 9 o’clock to rear hip and 3 o’clock to target-side hip. Vary swing length (position of hands in the swing) to control distance:

  • 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock 
  • 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock
  • 8 o’clock to 4 o’clock
Videos on the way . . .
I want to hear from you.  What are your best pitching tips or questions?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Manners Matter

Manners matter in life.  

Manners also matter in golf where it’s known as etiquette and the underlying Spirit of the Game.  Search “etiquette & spirit of the game” on the websites of golf’s two governing bodies, the United States Golf Association and The Royal & Ancient and you will find the following:

"Golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players, care for the course and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be."

A few weeks ago I took two of my students on the nine hole course where I teach.  With few exceptions, I found very little of the game’s spirit there.  What I found prevalent was a lack of manners.

It was a warm Sunday afternoon, an unexpected opportunity for golfers to play a winter round.  I was conducting a Training Session, a playing and practice session for some of my more skilled students.  I had two teens in the session that day and they were anxious to get on the course like everyone else.  I approached two young men on the first tee that were waiting their turn to tee off and asked if the boys & I could join them for a few holes.  (My students would play a scramble format and I would be their forecaddie/coach.)  I was appreciative when they agree to let us play with them. 

The foundation of my coaching philosophy includes quote from University of Miami Women’s Basketball Coach Katie Meir (a former UNCC hoops coach), “It’s not what you teach, it’s what you emphasize.” All of the children I teach & coach learn the etiquette of golf & proper pace of play, and are equipped to demonstrate it when they play.

Here is a sampling of the poor behavior I noticed that day on the course:  On the very first green I noticed two golf cars passing us, heading toward the second hole.  Once we holed out, I rode up to these folks to see if they were meeting other players or what.  They told me there were six people waiting to tee off on the first hole, so they decided to just jump head to an open spot on the course. Then as our group was waiting for that group to clear the green on the second hole, an older couple approached me in a golf car asking if I picked up their golf ball.  Obviously they hit into us and thought nothing of it. I wasn’t even aware of the incoming missile and had simply thought I found a another ball we had in play. I handed over the ball and they drove off, passing us too, with no further comment. Yes, we then had to wait on them as well.

Where in the world was the Spirit of the Game that day?  By my observation there was lack of basic manners, etiquette, courtesy, consideration, safety, respect, and honor.  It did not go unnoticed by boys; they knew too.

Despite the loathsome behavior, we enjoy our time on the course and meeting new golfers.  I was grateful for the opportunity to help the boys become more comfortable playing with individuals they did not know.  (I think the men, beginners to the game, enjoyed getting a few golf tips too.)

I was pretty disappointed in what I observed on the course that day.  When I shared the story with a few others, they made comments such as “That’s just the way it is.”, or “That’s what you get with public golf.” 

I don’t accept those attitudes. As a teenager I learned to play golf on public golf courses, because my family didn’t belong to a country club.  I learned proper etiquette and was mentored by the golfers with whom I played and from my first teacher. I remember being taught that MANNERS MATTER.

What’s next?

When I voice a critique or vent a frustration, I also attempt to offer a solution . . . so here goes:

As a golf professional (within my industry) I now have at my disposal more programs than ever before designed to increase golf participation.  It is important to teach the golf swing, but it is also equally important to teach proper comportment on the course. That’s my responsibility; being mindful is crucial.

I also call on all golfers to take the time to mentor others who take up the game.  I know many who already do so and I ask others to consider the same when a new golfer joins your club association.

Beginning April I will begin offering a monthly putting and etiquette clinic
at Tega Cay Golf Club to new golfers at no charge.  People “don’t know what they don’t know”, so hopefully I can pass on Golf’s Spirit in addition to swing education. And, I will also use social media avenues to educate as well.

Let’s pay it forward . . . for the good of the game. 


Monday, December 17, 2012

Stocking Stuffers for the Golfer

Finishing up with you holiday shopping? If you are like me, you leave a little things until last . . . such as the stocking stuffers  Here are some good ideas for the other golfers on your list . . . 

1. Game improvement software - Egolfplan
My preferred software.  Receive complimentary coaching for golfers who are on my instructional packages.  Ten day free trial available.

2.  Golf balls.  
There are many quality golf balls on the market that make it unnecessary to purchase over-priced balls brand such as Nike, Titleist ProV1, or Callaway, etc..

Before you get caught up in the marketing for low spin, keep in mind that spin creates lift to fly the ball higher, thus longer.  Unless you have a wicked hook or fight a pull slice, stay away from low spin balls.  Below are my top choices for reasonably priced balls:
Bridgestone - E5, $27
Maxfli - Noodle, & U/3, $25
Callaway - HX Diablo, $20
Srixon Q-Star, $25
Titleist - Velocity, $27

In addition, the following balls benefit children and adults who have lower clubhead speeds.  These balls are geared toward creating higher ball flight for greater carry.  More spin & lower compression.  Good qualities for increasing distance.  My top three picks are:
Bridgestone -  FIIXX, $20
Maxfli - U/2, $20
Srixon - Soft Feel, $20

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Winter Short Game Shots. A Decision-Making Process

This time of year short shots around the green can be treacherous.  If you don't have a plan, its easy to take a shot a few feet off the green, and turn it into a double or triple bogey.  

Below is a decision-making process for successful chipping and pitching around the green:

  •  Evaluate
    • Lie of the ball – 
      • Slope
      • Grass type - mowed or rough “hardpan”, etc.
      • Ball sitting up, buried or on an uneven surface
    • Carry to roll ratio
    • Slope of the green
  • Consider
    • Landing Zone
    • Trajectory
  • Use your imagination   
  • Visualize your shot & target
  • Decide & state your INTENTION
  • Execute
  • Evaluate

Lie/Club Option Matrix

  1. Lie - Closely mowed area (apron) smooth and/or similar speed to the putting surface.
    Club options
    :  Putter or SW through 6-iron   
  2. Lie - Closely mowed area (apron) but ball on uneven, bumpy and/or longish grass.
    Club options
    :  SW through 6-iron, hybrid with low loft or 3-wood (Avoid the putter.  It is not reliable in navigating the differences in grass resistance, e.g. longer grass vs. putting surface speeds)
  3. LieLight rough, just short of the apron
    Club options
    :  Lob, sand, pitching or gap wedges
    (Allow for "run" and aim for target landing area short of the hole)
  4. Lie - Deep rough
    Club options
    : Lob or sand wedges
    (Allow for "run" and aim for target landing area short of the hole)
Final thoughts:  Use caution when chipping off dormant Bermuda grass once it has matted down. It is very easy to "chunk" or "blade" the shot.  Consider utilizing a low-lofted hybrid club, e.g. 3- or 4-hybrid.  The mass and length of the club will move the ball quite easily through bumpy lies, up slopes or to multiple plateaued greens.  e.g. Tega Cay GC, Pines #2, 3, 8 or 9.

Never tried using your hybrid?  Its simple.  Grip down on the handle and imagine using a putter with a long stick. (No wrist hinging.)  You will notice the ball taking off the clubface briskly, but developing feel will come easily with a little practice.

Questions?  What's your story?  Tell it here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

USGA, R&A propose anchoring ban starting in 2016

What do you think?  Read this . . .